Smart Meters Character Design

These characters concepts were done for a project pitch at Lobo, a production house based in São Paulo, Brazil. The project was about Smart Meters, an animation campaign to help people saving energy. I had the pleasure to be the graphic designer of the team in this lovely project.

The campaign features two characters and tells the story of a very unusual relationship between a penguin and a little girl. Pez and Poz, who live together in a house at a fishing village in Northern England. The penguin has been rescued from the Arctic, having been forced to abandon his melting home. Naturally, the penguin cares about how much energy they use.

Pez is a cheeky, slightly unruly penguin who actively gets the child to use less energy. For three reasons: First, it’s wasteful. Second, he likes it cold – he loves a cold room, a cold bath and also wants his food raw. Moreover, thirdly, he comes from the Arctic, so cares about the misuse of energy. He’s always turning things off. So he’s the smart one of the two – showing Poz how the Smart Meter change tariffs. Also, he’s a bit naughty too and a bit of a handful.

Poz is a little tomboyish girl. She is funny, and loves Pez, but struggles to get him to behave, so they squabble in between getting on well. She represents us, the consumer. She gradually gets her head around the Smart Meter thing and why it’s so good. In the fullness of time, she becomes an advocate of it, and therefore an ally of Pez.

I tried to reproduce the character personality of the briefing in a couple of styles – some of them to be executed in 3D, and others to be done in flash or traditional animation – at the time, they hadn’t had the animation method chose yet. I wanted the colors in a way the overlook mood is “cold” (they live in a cold place), but with some hot colors accents. There is another reason I choose these colors. The main subject in the project is the ENERGY, which I represented in yellow/light orange, so I made the characters in a way they didn’t conflict with the light of the energy in the final styleframe.

I started hand sketching to warm up some ideas but most of the sketches used in these illustrations I did directly in Photoshop, even because I had just one day to make these designs. All concepts were done in Photoshop.

Although director and client loved the concepts, the campaign got canceled. It was a pity, but there are many factors – not just a good script and design – that need to be aligned to make a project happen. However, I had memorable fun making these two friends 🙂

Bruna Imai

She is a graphic designer born in Brazil, raised in Switzerland and Japan until the age of 8 when her family returned to Brazil.

Passionate about drawings and visual content, she graduated in graphic design from Unesp (São Paulo State University) at Bauru, São Paulo. There, she worked in different kinds of projects and studios, from manufacturing sustainable products to conceiving a game design, discovering the amazing world we could build when we create and work collectively.

In 2011, at the year of her graduation project, she moved to São Paulo to work at Lobo/Vetor Zero, her first job in the video production field.

There, she worked with some amazingly talented people, contributing on designing for various pitches and film projects, working with different kinds of media including tv and events opening titles, commercials, branding, and character design through different techniques. Her work includes making the concept of the project, planning the storytelling and doing the art direction.

In the last years, she had the opportunity to have a lot of different experiences, like staying a year in Japan, working with amazing studios around the world, and living a nomad life.

She is currently living in the city of Los Angeles, United States.